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Psycho Analysis In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

2368 words - 9 pages

Psycho-Analysis in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Sigmund Freud's studies in psychoanalysis are uncannily fore-grounded in the late romantic period. The works of William Wordsworth, Percy B. Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley, all function as poetic preludes to Freud's 18th century field. Particularly, it is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that creates a fictional rendering for psychoanalyst. In Frankenstein, Victor's rejection of the Monster metaphorically represents the ego's rejection of the unconscious. Following from this metaphorical paradigm, Freud's theories on narcissism, the libido theory, the doppelganger, neurosis, and the Oedipus-complex all resonate in the pages of Frankenstein. After a brief introduction to narcissism and the libido theory, a psychoanalytic character study of Victor and the monster will be preformed. Finally, the romantic works of Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Wordsworth will further demonstrate the Freudian phenomenon.

Freud declares that mankind has suffered three major blows, the "destruction of the narcissistic illusion" (Freud, "One of the Difficulties of Psycho-Analysis," 5), that permanently destabilized how individuals envisioned themselves in relation to the exterior world. These three blows were: The Cosmological, where the Copernican Revolution dislodged mankind from the center of the universe. Secondly, The Biological, where Darwin reunited man and beast as equals, and the third, Freud's own contribution, The Psychological, where mankind cannot trust his own thoughts: "What is in your mind is not identical with what you are conscious of; whether something is going on in your mind and whether you hear of it, are two different things" (Freud, "One of the Difficulties to Psycho-Analysis," 8). Freud directly addresses the existence of an unconscious mind, the existence of thoughts not known to the thoughtful, and the unreliability of the conscious mind. Prior to these three blows Man considered himself as the center and ruler of the universe, a narcissistic illusion. The discoveries of Copernicus, Darwin, and Freud drove man's narcissism underground dividing the object (the world), from the subject (the self), or conscious from the unconscious.

In the beginning of its development the libido (all erotic tendencies, all capacity for love) in each individual is directed towards the self…It is only until later that, in association with the chief natural functions, the libido flows over and beyond the ego towards objects outside the self, and it is not until then are we able to recognize the libidinal trends as such and distinguish them for the ego-instincts. (Freud, "One of the Difficulties to Psycho-Analysis," 3)

The ego-instincts are those that are controlled by the conscious mind or the self-preservative force. Therefore, in a human paradise the libido and the ego-instincts would be one. The sexual drives would work agreeably with the preservative drives. However, in adulthood Freud explains the...

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